The Problem With Radical Christians
Fear makes people act out of character. September 11, 2001 changed our national comfort level. However, we cannot let it change what makes this country great. We cannot allow â€œradicalsâ€ of any religion to divide us and turn us on each other.
Since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the mainstream media rarely speaks about Islam and Muslims without using the adjectives such as “radical” or “extremist” as a descriptor. Of course, “radical” is an accurate description of anyone that uses religion to justify a horrific act.
In general, Americans are pretty ignorant about other cultures. When we travel to foreign countries, we expect their citizens to speak English. Our collective lack of interest in other societies outside of The West --Europe-- leaves us susceptible to believing the worst stereotypes and biases about other people and cultures. When we were attacked on 9/11 by Al-Qaeda, a radical organization comprised of Muslims, some Americans could not differentiate between Al-Qaeda and the 1.57 billion Muslims that are 23% of the world’s population.
Just as the mainstream media suddenly lost its collective curiosity, one of the most important traits of any serious journalist, during the build up to invade Iraq, it also failed to provide us with any perspective regarding Islam. The persistent use of the term “radical Muslims” to describe any Muslims involved in any conflict with the U.S. or our allies came to represent Muslims and Islam as a whole.
I wonder how many American Christians understand that Allah is just the Arabic translation for God. How many know that Muslims believe in the same Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus that Christians --of which I am one-- believe in?
Just as so-called Christians used the Bible to subjugate African Americans, bomb clinics that performed abortions and cheat people out of their life savings, there are Muslims that misuse the Qur’an the same way.
It is when people are most oppressed and see no hope for the future that they are the most susceptible to religious zealotry. The same way that members of the Ku Klux Klan selectively use the bible to convince outcasts that their lack of good fortune can be traced to minorities, Al-Qaeda and other organizations use the Qur’an to convince down-trodden people that the only solution to their problems is to take arms against The West.
Fortunately, most Christians understand that these fringe groups use of the Bible is inaccurate and in no way represents their religion or the essence of what it means to be a Christian. Unfortunately, we have not been able to apply that same logic to Muslims.
Do you really believe that is part of the Muslim faith includes strapping a bomb to your body and blowing yourself up? As ridiculous as that sounds, many people believe that. Ask yourself, if African American slaves had the technology to strap a bomb to their bodies and walk into the “big house” do you think they would have? Of course they would because they saw no other way out of their situation. The decision to become a human bomb comes only when one feels that all hope is gone and there are no other alternatives. It is not the doctrine of any religion.
That inability to see extremism for what it is has lead to a debate that, according to the Founding Fathers of this great country, should not be taking place at all. The Bill of Rights prohibits Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Ironically, but not surprisingly, it’s the folks that usually refer to themselves as “Strict Constitutionalists” that are now protesting the erection of a Islamic cultural center and mosque three blocks away from Ground Zero.
Their argument is that the center would betray the memory of those lost in the attacks. Opponents of the mosque and cultural center also say that allowing the mosque so near to Ground Zero would represent a victory to Al-Qaeda.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Al-Qaeda attacked America on 9/11. Americans were killed at the World Trade Center, The Pentagon and on Flight 93. Al-Qaeda did not discriminate in its attack. Christian, Jews, Catholics and Muslims were murdered on 9/11. Christian, Jews, Catholics and Muslims have also given their lives in the years since 9/11 to combat Al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda can only be victorious if we allow them to divide us and act against the very principles that founded this nation. By denying Muslims their basic rights as Americans we provide Al-Qaeda with an additional recruiting tool. They would only have to point to this act of denial as evidence that America hates Islam and its followers.
Of course the same can be said for Pastor Terry Jones in Florida who speaks of holding a Qur’an burning. How can anyone call themselves a child of God and openly discuss and rationalize such a heinous act is beyond me. The worst thing is that Pastor Jones isn’t the one that would suffer the backlash. The blood of American’s, whether at home, abroad or in service to this great nation would be on his hands. Groups such as Al-Qaeda would multiply in size if such burnings occur.
Fear makes people act out of character. September 11, 2001 changed our national comfort level. However, we cannot let it change what makes this country great. We cannot allow “radicals” of any religion to divide us and turn us on each other.
"Speaking Truth To Empower."
To empower local communities, Allimadi teaches a free journalism workshop Guerrilla Journalism every Monday from 6PM to 8PM at True South Bookstore, 492 Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. Anyone is welcome to attend. Call (347) 257-7330 or just drop in.
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